12 Finalists Announced for 2022 Real California Pizza Contest

The professional chefs will compete for a total of $30,000 in cash prizes in three categories: Cal-Mex, The REAL Californian and Plant-Forward.

  • A dozen professional chefs will vie for awards and cash prizes totaling $30,000 in the finals of the fourth Real California Pizza Contest, taking place June 22.
  • The pizza recipe contest, produced by the California Milk Advisory Board, covers three categories: Cal-Mex, The REAL Californian and Plant-Forward.

Related: Spencer Glenn wins grand prize of $20,000 in 2021 Real California Pizza Contest

A dozen finalists have emerged in the California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) 2022 Real California Pizza Contest (RCPC), the fourth nationwide search for the best foodservice pizza recipes that include the most innovative uses of Real California Cheese.

The professional chef finalists will compete in three categories at a public bake-off event in Napa, California, on June 22 for awards and cash prizes that total $30,000.

Winners will be selected by a panel of renowned expert judges, including Tony Gemignani, a chef, restaurateur, international pizza authority and president of the World Pizza Champions; Glenn Cybulski, a certified pizzaiolo and award-winning executive chef; and Spencer Glenn, executive chef at Pizza My Heart and the 2021 RCPC grand prize winner.

The judges chose the 12 finalists from more than 100 blind-judged entries submitted by professional chefs and pizzaiolos across the U.S. in three recipe categories: Cal-Mex, The REAL Californian, and Plant-Forward.

“We are thrilled with the finalists in this fourth edition of the Real California Pizza Contest,” said Mike Gallagher, business and market development consultant for the CMAB. “Every contest, the number of entries grows, and the creative use of California cheeses expands. Our finalists in each of the three categories—Cal-Mex, The Real Californian and Plant Forward—have developed innovative pizza recipes that reflect the latest culinary trends and feature great flavor combinations.”

The live bake-off finals event takes place at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia facility in Napa. The pizzas, which all feature cow’s milk cheeses from California, will be prepared and baked onsite for a blind evaluation by judges. Category winners will win $5,000. The grand prize winner, selected from the three category winners, will win an additional $10,000. All remaining finalists will receive $500 each.

The 2022 finalists and their recipes are:

Cal-Mex:

  • Ryan Ososky, Los Angeles, CA, Oaxacan in the Motorcity
  • Christopher Lascik, Yelm, WA, El Puerco Verde
  • Austin Buckland, Marion, OH, La Fiesta
  • Marcus Medina, Tracy, CA, Cali Craft Chicken Enchilazza

The REAL Californian:

  • Ray Cullison, Kingman, AZ, California Dreamin’
  • Chris Decker, Las Vegas, NV, For the Love of California
  • Jason Garland, Waverly, MN, The Venice Beach
  • David Jacobson, Concord, CA, The Gold Rush

Plant-Forward:

  • Leah Scurto, Windsor, CA, Spear-It of Spring
  • Max Cufre, San Diego, CA, Honey, I’m Home!
  • Yoshiharu Sogi, Sonoma, CA, Sweet Blue
  • Melina Felix, Littleton, CO, Green N’ Zesty

The Bake-Off Finals will be streamed on Facebook Live at 3 p.m. (PT), June 22, at facebook.com/realcamilkfoodservice. Additional details on the bake-off, the pizza chef finalists and the CMAB are available online at Real California Pizza Contest.

The CMAB, an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy farm families, who lead the nation in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to nourish the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk, the CMAB’s programs focus on increasing demand for California’s sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research and retail and foodservice promotional programs.